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Mar 15, 2012


Over-consumption of sugar has lead to a decrease in the quality of our lives because it is linked with tooth decay, overweight, obesity and some diet-related diseases. The sugar can be used in our beverages or present in sugar sweetened beverages and snacks. The realization of this fact has lead to an increasing shift in consumption from brown sugar to white sugar. This is because brown sugar is said to be more nutritious than its compatriot white sugar.

Brown sugar is a product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. Some brown sugar is made from an unrefined or partially refined sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content. Most brown sugar marketed is produced by the addition of molasses to ordinary refined white sugar. Brown sugar contains from 3.5% to 6.5% molasses. Brown sugar is naturally moist. The molasses usually used is that obtained from sugar cane, because the flavor is generally preferred over beet sugar molasses. Brown sugar can be made at home by mixing white granulated sugar with molasses, using one tablespoon of molasses for every cup of white sugar.

Because of its molasses content, brown sugar does contain certain minerals, most notably calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium (white sugar contains none of these). But since these minerals are present in only tiny amounts, there is no real health benefit to using brown sugar. Molasses contains microscopic amounts of many vitamins and minerals and the micronutrients present in molasses depends on the type of plant, season, rainfall, altitude of growth, fertilizers, hours of sunshine, soil, and so on.
Brown sugar has a slightly lower caloric value by weight than white sugar due to the presence of water. 100g of brown sugar contains 373 calories, as opposed to 396 calories in white sugar. However, brown sugar packs more densely than white sugar due to the smaller crystal size and may have more calories when measured by volume. One tablespoon of brown sugar has 48 calories against 45 calories for white sugar.

The real differences between the two are taste and the effects on baked goods. Brown sugar is only marginally different from white sugar – and they are both sweet nothings. The idea that brown and white sugars have big differences is a common nutrition myth. Sugar can be thought of as ‘empty calories’ as it does not provide any vitamins or minerals – only calories, which is why it is bad news for those of us watching our weight. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar, be it brown or white, and it is all going to end up contributing to an increase in weight if not ‘burnt’ off through exercise. Let us make conscious efforts to reduce our intake of all sugars whether brown or white.